Centre on Thursday said it is confident of achieving wheat procurement target of 34.2 million tonne and will soon take a call on relaxing quality norms for buying in Punjab and Haryana in view of crop damage due to untimely rains.
Addressing a press conference, Union Food Secretary Sanjeev Chopra said the government is hopeful of a record wheat output of 112.2 million tonne in 2022-23 crop year ending June, despite inclement weather conditions in some parts of the country affecting grain quality.
Meanwhile, on a related note, the secretary also said that fortified rice which at present is being distributed through the public distribution system (PDS) in 269 districts will cover the rest of the districts well before the deadline of March 2024.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Independence Day address in 2021 said the government aims to distribute fortified rice via the government schemes by 2024.
Thereafter, a scheme for the distribution of fortified rice, containing prescribed micronutrients (Iron, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12) was launched in October 2021 in a phased manner in order to address the problem of anaemia in children and women.
Coming back to wheat, the secretary said that the likely production loss due to unseasonal rains in Punjab and Haryana will be offset by yield gains expected in other wheat producing states because of lower temperature.
Chopra said the Centre has already relaxed quality norms for wheat procurement in Madhya Pradesh to ensure that farmers do not suffer because of vagaries of weather and they get minimum support price (MSP).
There are reports of crop damage in 16 districts of Punjab and some parts of Haryana, but a final estimate on the extent of damage has not been worked out yet. However, a marginal production loss is being anticipated, he said.